Metro workers made an astonishing discovery of a 100-year-old treasure buried beneath Centennial Park, and it is considered so important that part of the park will now be redesigned around the discovery.
When the park was dedicated more than 100 years ago, it wasn't opened with just a ribbon cutting. The president of the United States came to visit, and it was a national event at the site of the Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition.
Nevertheless, those park builders did something that, today, would be considered an environmental sin.
"Earlier this year, Metro plumbers located for the first time the source for the spring and excavated it. It's just really amazing, this water source that brought the earliest settlers to our area, still flows cold and clear in midtown Nashville," said Tim Netsch, planning superintendent with Metro Parks.
The discovery is the Cockrill Spring - one of the key springs along the Natchez Trace. The body of water was so significant the National Park Service considered ending the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail at the site.
Even though it has been treated with total disregard - capped and piped to the sewer for 100 years - more than 100 gallons of water per minute flows straight to the sewer.
"It's hard to imagine doing that now, but that was very common at that time. People wanted to get water they weren't using out of the way, and they used the new storm sewers," Netsch said.
That was then, but this is now.
"So, we are going to daylight this spring, bring it back up to the surface," Netsch said. "It will be the organizing component for this whole area of the park, so we'll have the water feature, gardens, meadows and a new destination in the park."
Not only that, but the water will also be pumped into Lake Watauga, which runs along the east side of the park.
The spring will transform the popular water feature, and its water is so productive there will be no need for city water in the park.
All of this opportunity bubbles from a forgotten stream.
"I do love that it's a bubbling spring. If you look in, it has clear, clean water," said Tara Armistead, with the Centennial Park and Parthenon Conservancy. "To have people all over the city appreciate it, listen to it and to see it, I think, will be exciting."
This plan is ambitious, and it will likely be expensive, so it will take a public-private partnership to make it happen.
Members of the conservancy are asking businesses and individuals to get behind the project and want to be part of it.
Copyright WSMV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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